Ben Nockels and Amy White didn't have to see recent headlines to know that hundreds of children are in foster care in Oklahoma and many are longing for adoption.
Nockels is executive director of the 111 Project, which is raising awareness about foster care and recruiting families from the faith community to foster or adopt children in the Oklahoma Department of Human Services foster care system. White is deputy director of the agency's Bridge program.
A story in Wednesday's Oklahoman reported that the number of abused and neglected children in state custody has jumped from 10,233 to 10,729 since July 1, outpacing DHS leaders' ability to find new foster homes and forcing more children into already overcrowded state shelters.
Nockels said the need for more foster families and “forever families” for children waiting to be adopted is critical.
He said that's why he is excited about the “Wait No More” adoption conference set for Oct. 26 at Crossings Community Church, 14600 N Portland. The Focus on the Family event is being held in partnership with DHS, local churches and adoption advocates.
Nockels said the conference's goal is to raise awareness about the waiting children and youth in foster care. Conference leaders hope to recruit families to participate in the foster care program or to adopt a child.
Conference attendees will get an opportunity to learn more about the process of adoption from foster care and they will learn ways to support adoptive families. Leaders with Focus on the Family, a Colorado Springs-based Christian ministry, said since 2008, more than 2,500 families have stepped forward to start the adoption process through 20 “Wait No More” recruitment events in 13 states.
Nockels said the faith community has shown that it wants come alongside the DHS to provide nurturing homes for children in state custody. He said about 850 new families are now helping abused and neglected children in state custody as a result of the 111 project partnership.